Saturday, December 28, 2013

8 Ways to Raise a Money-Wise Child

My daughter voiced a desire to learn about all the holiday traditions, most likely in an effort to score more presents. So far we have attended a Hanukkah party, celebrated our traditional Christmas and are now on to Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration honoring African-American heritage and centers around seven core principles. I always thought it originated in Africa, but it actually was created in California in the late 1960's. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa focuses on one of the seven qualities (I have simplified the definitions based on the song The Seven Principles by Sweet Honey In the Rock):

  • Umoja-Unity that brings us together.
  • Kujichagulia-We will determine who we are.
  • Ujima-Working and building our union.
  • Ujamaa-We'll spend our money wisely.
  • Nia-We know the purpose of our lives.
  • Kuumba-All that we touch is more beautiful.
  • Imani-We believe that we can, we know that we can, we will anyway.  

Since tomorrow is the day of Ujamaa (and since my daughters received some cash as gifts) we are going to use this week to talk about managing money. In the past, I have done this for my girls (read: stolen their money when they weren't looking and stuck it in the bank for them). But now that the Tooth Fairy has been making regular visits, my oldest daughter has managed to amass a small fortune. Here is what I plan to do:

  • Sit with my daughters and count up what they have saved and talk to them about what they have received.
  • Teach them to divide their funds 10-10-10-70. 10% will go to giving, 10% will go to savings, 10% will go to an investment fund and the remaining 70% is theirs to spend. I plan to demonstrate this using a dollar broken down into dimes--this way they can see how each dollar is divided (and they still get to spend most of it).
  • Ask them how they would like to give---this can be people/organizations for those in need or establishments that help them grow (schools, studios, sports teams, recreation centers) etc.
  • Set savings goals--it may help a child be more willing to delay the gratification of spending if they can be reminded of the coming benefit of saving (Oh you want to buy 7000 rainbow stickers? That will take away from your bike fund). I plan to set a short-term savings goal with them to determine what they might want to use their spending money for, as well as a long-term savings goal that they will use their savings for.
  • Look into opening a savings account at a local credit union or bank. Teach them about bank fees, interest rates and the "small print" of the banking agreement. For older kids, you might want to discuss the challenges and benefits of debit cards, credit cards and using cash.
  • Talk about investing. I am still learning about investing and until I learn more about where to steer my child, we will most likely put it in a 529 fund for college.
  • Let them make mistakes-(7000 rainbow stickers it is!) 
  • Be an example of wise money-handling.  Let them in on bill paying, budgeting, banking and savings and that time you splurged on a pair of shoes/tools/car/Vegas without planning ahead.

Here are a few links to help you get started this week. This is a big undertaking, but a very valuable lesson. Joyous Kwanzaa!

5 Ways to Raise a Financially Responsible Kid

4 money lessons for kids to master

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Kiss the Sky

We are in Indiana for the Holidays. I put off some Christmas shopping until we got here so we wouldn't have to schlep too much on the plane. Even the minimal gifts we bought required a few hours out in the retail hive. By hour three, I found myself rushing a little more, mostly self-absorbed, still remembering to make eye-contact with the retail workers, but irritable and ready to go home. The Winter Solstice was yesterday. For me it's a time to reconnect with nature and observe its flow and how it reflects in our lives. The only way I feel connected to nature in a mall is the unshakeable feeling that I am part of a herd. That's the "moo moo" kind, not the "we are all one" kind.  

I got home and went upstairs to nurse my daughter. Since our arrival, her favorite thing to do when she wakes up is crawl to the window next to the bed and look out at the sky and the trees. I am following her lead for our activity this week. Instead of starting my day by grabbing my phone and checking my email, I am bookending a few of our days with nature.  Start the day by pulling up the blinds and watching the birds flit around for a few minutes. Notice how what is growing near your house and how the neighborhood wakes up. If you can manage to work it into your holiday routine this week, designate some time each night to head outside, look up at the stars and take some deep breaths and remember what a huge, miraculous Universe we are a part of. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Hole in Santa's System

It goes without saying that the Holidays is a time of giving. From Halloween to Valentine's Day, I am constantly preaching its importance. This year, I realized if I continue to encourage (read: force) my kids to give to others, they will discover eye-rolling at a much earlier age. For the past few years, I have marched my kids to the toy aisle and asked them to pick out a toy to give to a kid who won't have one on Christmas. Then we drive it over to the Toys-For-Tots barrel and leave it there, trusting that whomever receives it will be happy and feel our love from afar. This is more of a form of torture for a kid, especially for my kids who rarely get to go to the toy store, let alone leave with something for themselves. Plus, as my daughter pointed out, Santa is supposed to make sure each child gets a toy, so is there some kind of hole in the system if some of them are getting missed?!!!

I realized the lesson I was trying to teach was not landing and was probably creating some resentments too.  While toy drives and food drives are an excellent way to give, there is no "payoff". My children can't see the good they are doing and receive the inspiration to continue to do more good when they place things in a barrel. So this week, we are going to do a Random Act of Kindness. I asked my daughters a few questions this week to see if we might be able to come up with something THEY want to do. Here are some prompts/suggestions that might help YOU help THEM discover how to help SOMEONE ELSE:
  • if I gave you one dollar, but you couldn't keep it for yourself, what would you do with it?
  • is there something in the world that you don't like that you wish you could make better? What could we do to make it better?
  • Practice your own Act of Kindness in their presence--they may be inspired if they see you "Paying-it-Forward". 
  • remember that pets, the environment, schools, friends, neighbors, parents with new babies, the elderly can be recipients of your "Act of Kindness".
  • Trust that with a little encouragement and conversation, children can discover their own way to give. Honor that discovery and assist them in making it happen without editing their idea.
 Have a wonderful Holiday!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Fresh Melody

With the holidays well under way, I am pretty sure you have been immersed in the soundtrack of Yuletide Carols upon entry into any retail establishment since late October. Each year I wonder if they stopped making Christmas music in 1992 because I am so tired of hearing Whitney Houston ask me if I hear what she hears (No, Whitney, no. I still...don't....HEAR IT!) So pause the holiday music at some point this week and take some time to explore a genre of music you haven't spent as much time with. Today, I asked my girls to lie down, close their eyes and listen to some new selections. It opened up a really cool discussion and was incredibly relaxing as well (until we got to Mongolian Throat Singing---then we were giggling a bit). Here are some selections you might find more interesting than "Santa Baby":

Opera-Delibes' Flower Duet

Classical-Dvorak's New World Symphony

Brazilian Samba

African-Soweto Gospel Choir

Mongolian Throat Singing

A Capella-Rock With You

An incredibly creative way to play the piano

Bluegrass-Sierra Hull

For the sake of convenience, most of these links will lead to a you tube video.  To keep things unplugged, I covered the screen and we simply listened to the tracks. You can also use Pandora (the music app) or the music channels on satellite tv to search different genres. Here are a some of our favorites:

Celtic Harp
Musical Theatre

We always end up having a dance party in our living room when we explore music. So tear it up together or just relax and enjoy the tunes! Happy Listening!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

This Holiday Choice Could Save a Life

We are tree-lovers over here. Our girls have been known to hug trees in true California-girl fashion. Last week, we were driving home, when I noticed a large tree at the end of our block had suddenly been cut down. "THAT'S HURTING NATURE!", my daughter exclaimed. Each time we got in the car for the next few days, she let us know she was still in mourning. We all were.

It is very important to me to teach my children that we are stewards of the Earth. This can be quite a challenge, living in an apartment in a big city, but we manage to do our part. Last year, when we went to pick out a Christmas tree, we had just experienced another tree drama. Tree trimmers had shown up at the little grove down our street and hacked off the lowest branches of all the trees. There was one particular tree that the girls could climb on their own. It had a long, undulating branch their father would swing them up onto and he would help them jump down. They were heartbroken when they realized it was gone and each day when we drove past it, they just asked "Why?. It was as if we had lost a pet. The tree was alive and there was no reason for it not to exist in their world anymore. 

So flashback to the Home Depot parking lot and we found ourselves at a crossroads: to our left was the fenced-in pen of Christmas trees fresh from the farm, cut and ready to be tied to the car roof, decorated and admired for three weeks, only to be cast off and thrown dead in the gutter a month later. To our right, was a small display of Living Trees. A few 3-foot saplings planted in pots displayed meekly next to some grills on clearance. It was a moment of truth---would I cave-in and bring home something that was sure to set the mood seen in all the magazines and commercials? Surely, if we had a 6-foot tall tree posing majestically in our front room, Christmas would be cozier, Santa would bring more presents, everyone would feel more...well....Christmas-ier. A plastic tree felt like a better possibility, but a tree made of chemicals didn't feel right either. So we headed over to the little potted trees and picked one out. It was our first "Charlie-Brown" tree--we couldn't get our fancy antique topper to stay on it, so we made one of paper, we used a total of two strings of lights around it. But, just like the end of the Peanuts Special, once we got it all set up and decorated, it was beautiful. And it was alive and would stay that way. After we rang in the New Year, it took up residence on our patio, where it has filled out a bit. This year, instead of buying another tree, we bought a bigger pot and some extra soil.

Are you up for the challenge this year? We were able to find living trees at both our Home Depot and our local grocery store. If you really want the glamor of a big tree and live in California, you can rent a living tree from Living Christmas. They will drop it off and pick it up for you. If you have no space to raise a potted tree after the Holiday, consider donating it to a school, church, scout group or park. Artificial Christmas trees are generally oil-derived and not recyclable, so consider giving this gift to your family and Mother Earth this year.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

6 Steps to a More Connected Thanksgiving

Last weekend, my parents lost power for over a day after severe weather hit the Midwest.  Even though my Mom and Dad have a strong relationship, my mom commented that "it's hard to have a conversation when you have to". It made me realize how much of my own conversations are based on what I am currently looking at on my phone/ipad/laptop. Going into Thanksgiving, my husband and I have talked about using our electronics minimally and intentionally and asking our family members to do the same. We really want to show our kids that it is important to be present with each other. At first, I thought I was being old-fashioned in my ideal that we should put away things that often connect us as well as entertain us. But then I thought of my childhood and my Grandma hollering in the general direction of the living room to "TURN THE TV OFF" as she hauled food from the kitchen to the dining room. She probably wanted us lazy bums to get up and help her set the table, but I think she also was frustrated that we weren't doing much more than a bunch of strangers do at a movie theater.  This year, we will still watch football and listen to music. I will probably refer to a recipe or two online. But I find I use my Facebook feed to "check out" when I am bored or overwhelmed. My husband checks scores and texts as a way to pass the time. In a room full of adults, each armed with a phone or laptop, what should be a celebration filled with conversations and laughter can feel more like the morning bus commute. A really nice morning bus commute with pie and gravy.....but still.

I encourage you to set aside your devices for part of the day on Thursday and talk to each other, play some games, take a walk, ask to help with the dishes. To fill in some of the gaps, here is a party game to play that is fun for all ages, even eye-rolling teenagers:

Celebrity (also known as Celebrities or Lunchbox) is a party game where teams play against each other to guess as many celebrity names as possible before time runs out. Little kids can play along too with help from the adults. Smaller kids can choose characters from books or shows, any person they are familiar with that the other players are familiar with as well.

6 Easy Rules for Celebrity with Pictures

 Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Give it Away....Give it Away...Give it Away Now!!

It starts with Halloween. Suddenly, the shelf of organized toys is littered with little plastic fangs and cheap glow-in-the-dark spider rings. As the holidays approach and we start seeing family members,  half the Target Dollar Spot takes up residence in our house. Pretty soon there is a new litter of stickers, puzzle pieces, those awful fake crayons that don't actually color, 490 new legos and 62 hair clips floating at random all over the house. By Valentine's Day, I am certain that this was the way one of the people you see on that show "Hoarders" started their collection.

This week, we are going to make an attempt to stop this epidemic in its tracks. We are cleaning out, giving things away, collecting for a yard sale and simplifying our possessions. This is a complete family project in which everyone gets really real with what they really need, what they actually use and what they can let go of. I plan to have the usual conversation with my kids about living simply, circulating our belongings to those who have very little and how grateful we can be for all we have. I encourage you to clean out a closet or drawer and drop some bags off at your local Goodwill or homeless shelter. An addendum to this activity will come closer to the Holidays. Consider simplifying your holiday gift lists. It is wonderful to honor those we love with presents, but how can those presents be more intentional or experiential? We will ask relatives to gift our children with things like tickets to the museum, money for a class they are interested in, a night at a show or just a one-on-one special day out with them.

Have a wonderful week! Please feel free to share your thoughts, suggestions and activity feedback!

How to have a perfect parenting moment....

Every once in a while, appetites are satiated, emotions are calm and perfect harmony descends upon our household.  When that palpable feeling arrives, I want to cue the movie soundtrack and capture the moment on my mental camera. These are the moments we expect to happen often when we have kids. But, in truth, they arrive the same way an astonishing sunset does---yeah, there are sunsets everyday, but then there are the ones when the conditions are just right and light hits the clouds just so, and you find yourself stopped at a green light marveling the sky.

This activity gave us one of those moments--we were sitting around the table cutting out leaves together, talking and laughing and just feeling cozy. I had a chance to memorize how my daughter's eyelashes look when we she looks down to cut paper. I took in some of the last sights I will have of my eldest's hands and cheeks before their chubby baby fat melts into girlhood. And for that moment, before somebody needed a snack or insisted they must use the tape first, I am so very grateful.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It seems I have hit upon a theme over the month---trees and gratitude. Last year, we did this activity and I had already planned on making it a yearly ritual. I grew up in Indiana with a traditional fall---turning leaves, the smell of bonfires, crisp football Saturdays. When we moved to L.A., I found substitutes for most of the things I missed about home, but I couldn't find anything that made me feel as cozy as fall. I tried to make do by taping leaves to the windows or attempting to jump through my tv screen when I was watching a Big Ten game. My mom even sent me a box filled with leaves and sticks one year just so I could smell home. 

So last year, we decided to make an autumn tree to decorate the house and it just naturally evolved into a Gratitude Tree. We traced leaves onto colored paper and cut them out. Then we cut paper bags and fashioned them into a trunk and branches and taped them to the wall. Each day, we each wrote something we were grateful for on a leaf and taped it on the tree. Our then 3-year-old even had us writing leaves for her (she was usually grateful for seaweed snacks). By Thanksgiving, we had our own little piece of fall in the house. This year instead of tracing leaves, I printed them using this template. If you want to save the trouble of cutting them out, you can find die-cut cardstock leaves at craft stores or here. If you aren't feeling crafty, you could simply write your entry on your calender. Instead of fall leaves, you could write on pieces of ribbon and tie them to a plant, a fence or a wreath, you could write on slips of paper and use clothespins to pin them to a string or you could simply tape a piece of paper to the wall and write on it daily. You can make it as simple or as fancy as you would like. Regardless of what you choose, it will cultivate gratitude during this season of Thanksgiving.

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I Stopped Breathing

My husband co-founded a non-profit called Do As One. It basically uses technology to help people breathe at an optimum level and connect with each other worldwide. He spends a lot of time facilitating breathing workshops, coaching clients through challenges and attending wellness conferences. Confession time---I am not a big "breather".  I know it's good for me and I do my best to use the techniques he suggests, but my nature is to stubbornly bulldoze my way through adversity. So this week's activity was a little tricky for me, not so much because I didn't want to do it, I just found myself forgetting sometimes. Am I the only one who feels like a designated driver after a college party when I have to put my kids in the car? There is always someone sobbing, somebody with the munchies and somebody who wets their pants (or pukes). Fortunately, I remembered to take my deep breaths when I was on my mini-vacation walking around the car from one side to the other. That walk ended up being like a mini-Camino de Santiago for me this week. Which is why I am going to continue doing this little minivan meditation. It worked. I found myself so much calmer this week, and not just when I was in the car. I found myself taking deep breaths more often throughout the day. My kids were calmer too---it was really cool to hear them behind me taking 4 deep breaths. And SCORE!---it forces them to close their mouths and be quiet for just long enough to forget what they may have been incessantly
whining about moments before.

Do As One has stickers of their breathing orb that are meant to be a reminder to take a deep breath. I am putting a few in my car and am happy to send some to anyone who may be interested in having visual reminders. They also have an app that has, among other features, a notification setting. It can be set to play a chime each hour (or whichever hours you choose). I use it to remind me to take a deep breath each hour. I have found myself in the middle of a mental tirade, storming and stomping, and BONG, the little gong chimes and it helps me simmer down. 

Do As One app 

New activity post tomorrow! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Star Power

After last week, it is clear that all I really need to do is be a S.T.A.R (because that would mean I get a personal chef and a massage every day). Really it stands for Stop Take a Breath And Relax. Designate a task you repeat daily (ideally something you and your child do together) and use it to remind you to take a slow deep breath. If you can't find something that will serve as a reminder, you can set an alarm to remind you. (I know we are doing "unplugged" activities here, but go with it.) 

Here's my plan--each time I get in the car, we are going to breathe. Put the baby in the car seat--one deep, long, slow breath. Buckle in the 4 year old--another deep, long slow breath. 6 year old clicks it---another chance to breathe. And finally, one more for the road when I strap in. I imagine with as much time as we spend getting in and out of the car, this routine should repeat an average of 6 times a day.  To honor the season of Thanksgiving, I am going to add a mental moment of gratitude to my breathing, simply noting one thing I can be thankful for. Granted, by trip number six it might be that it's only 3 more hours until bedtime.

Here are some resources if you would like to learn more about breathing techniques:

Do As One 

Fun Breathing Icons and Instructions for Kids from Conscious Discipline



Have a great week!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Strength of My Ancestors

It was one of those weeks that is typical for parents with small children. A sleepless, tantrum-filled, grumpy week. One that makes me think when my children are grown and smell b.o. and coffee-breath they will feel strangely nostalgic for their irritable mother and a cramped apartment. When I decided to start this blog, I felt it could be dangerous. People might assume I thought of myself as super-mom, that I had mastered mindful parenting and that I spent my days at home patiently guiding my children through Pinterest-worthy projects. Oh how misguided this assumption would be. This Family Tree activity was a perfect example of just how chaotic things feel sometimes. My eldest loved the idea of making a family tree and got to work right away--she interviewed her Grandparents and wrote lists of relatives, she had my husband draw her a template to enter all the information into---basically she was making me look really good. By the middle of the week, her interest waned and in the interest of blog-worthy photo ops, I kept pushing the subject. My younger would have rather sat through a physics dissertation and my youngest was busy testing her ability to swallow legos. By Halloween, we had successfully talked about family trees and our ancestors for about 2 minutes. In the eye of the storm, I managed to tell the girls the story of my Great-Grandfather's immigration from Croatia when he was 16. It made for quite the after-school special moment as we strolled peacefully down the street discussing how my Great-Grandparents met. Then my husband called to tell me he couldn't make it home until after dinner. That meant I needed to get my kids home, fed and costumed on my own. This would have been pretty simple had my youngest agreed to take a nap for more than 20 minutes that day. By 5:00, I was in my kitchen with a screaming baby wrapped around my leg, scrambling eggs while trying to finish a Pterodactyl head, volleying complaints from my eldest that the younger was (insert annoying behavior here). I had about 10 pieces of candy I scavenged from piƱata to hand out and nothing to light the jack-o-lanterns with. Did I mention the baby was screaming? Was I handling any of this gracefully or with compassion? Oh no---I was yelling and stomping and slamming and calculating how many years until my kids would start college. By the time we got everyone out, trick-or-treated, home and in pajamas, I may have aged 23 years. I had completely forgotten our intention to honor our ancestors. As we were tucking our daughters into bed, my husband grabbed a candle and said a few words in their remembrance. I wish I could say I listened to a word he said, but I just wanted to turn the lights off and have a glass of wine. Of course, once that happened, the guilt set in and I felt personally responsible for ruining Halloween for the entire Western Hemisphere.

The next morning, I woke up anxious---I was still wiped out from the day before and had a long night with the baby---how was I going to manage the day without being a snarky mess? The guilt of how snippy I had been with my family the night before was still goading me and I spent most of the morning picking myself apart.  I got in bed to nurse my daughter down for a nap---I really wished I could stay there all day, mostly because facing the day felt so overwhelming. As I continued to mentally compose the litany of wrongs I had committed, the missed blog activity came up---I forgot to honor my ancestors. "Well--today's the Day of the Dead," I thought. I took a deep breath and decided to honor them in that moment. Then I had the insight that so many of them had been mothers and they had been exhausted, sweaty messes too. And over bigger issues like food supply, life-threatening illnesses and basic survival. Pterodactyl heads really caused them no stress. So I closed my eyes and smelled my baby's head and asked my ancestors to surround me, to surround our family, to give me the strength and wisdom to mother with more grace, patience and calmness. Just saying these words to myself broke me open. I shed a tear as I felt myself relax and allowed the energy of generations past to wash away my guilt and start the day anew. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Deeper Halloween

I finished my "I Love" Affirmation project last night. It was hard. I don't really excel at visual art, but one of my affirmations was "I am determined", so I decided to lay my judgement aside and draw the way my children do---with abandon and commitment. One of my less positive affirmations is "I am picky", so this morning, I commissioned my eldest to illustrate the affirmation above.

Moving into our next activity, I wanted to do something connected to Halloween. I did a little reading and found that most Halloween traditions stem from All Saints/Souls Day or Day of the Dead. It seems to be that long ago quite a few people finished the harvest and proceeded to get really freaked out that their dead ancestors were coming to get them (I used to have similar problems walking outside in the dark---I swore the Incredible Hulk was coming for me---we're not related, but still, I can understand). Some cultures lit bonfires to scare off evil spirits, others dressed up in costumes to fool spirits into thinking they were one of them and some even hid all the sharp knives so the spirits couldn't use them. Once people felt they were safe from flying meat cleavers, they generally did something to honor their ancestors---set extra chairs at the table for someone who had recently died, created altars to them decorated with food and pictures. This sounded a little deeper than just gorging myself on my kids' Halloween stash after I told them they could only have one Milky Way before bed.

This week we are creating a Family Tree. Let me start by stating that this project CAN BE DONE BY ANYONE regardless of what type of family you come from. The idea is to honor the people you love and where you come from. We are simply going to put the names of people we love on a tree. You can use the "bracket" model if you wish (The one that looks like this and tracks blood ancestry)

or you can go "collage style" and just put anyone you consider family on your tree:

Include names or pictures of relatives, friends, pets--those living and those who have passed away. Families can be complex---get creative and make it work for you. If you have a child who is very young or sensitive who might not be ready to talk about death, consider talking about where your family comes from instead---pick up an atlas and tell them a story about a great-grandparent immigrating or the meaning of a tradition you keep in your family. 

On Halloween, take a moment and honor your ancestors. Light a candle, honor them with a moment of silence or a song--and then get silly on your kids' candy. Just tell them it's a family tradition.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How Do I Love Thee?

It's not just kids who have hard time coming up with a list of things they love about themselves. When I conjured up this lesson, I imagined myself writing pages and pages of lovable qualities for myself. Rather, I found myself wrestling with that icky voice in my head that wanted to discount everything good I wrote ("Compassionate?!!! You were just snapping at your kids 30 seconds ago!") and trying to keep my mouth shut while I my kids made their own lists. I could have written pages about my kids and my husband, but me???? 5 was hard.

My kids are pretty familiar with affirmations, so they were pretty receptive to this activity. We spent a little time just talking about what we loved about ourselves and then I asked them to just think about it for a day. They made their "I love" lists:

Then turned them into affirmations. My eldest chose to make hers into a book: 

and my younger, a collage:

 Here's how they turned out:

I would love to hear how you used this activity at home. Feel free to share artwork, comments and suggestions! I'll share my own in the next post. New activity post tomorrow! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

5 Things....

A while ago, I read an article about kids and affirmations. Of course, I have no recollection of where I read it or who wrote it, so you are just going to have to trust me (which might be hard for you science-types who like a solid source for your research). Anyway, it said that kids have an easy time expressing what they admire about others, but they have a really hard time expressing what they love about themselves. No real surprise there---most adults I know are only experts at nitpicking, comparing and judging themselves so this exercise should prove to be a good one for us all.

5 Things I Love About Me

  •  Ask yourself/your children/your significant other to take some time over a day to think about what they love about themselves. These can be things they can do, inner qualities, outer characteristics, etc. You may want to give younger kids some examples so they can reflect on a variety of things about themselves.
  • After everyone spends some time in reflection, have each person write a list of at least 5 things they love about him/herself.  Younger kids can dictate their list or draw it out in pictures.
  • Turn your love list into affirmations. An affirmation is a declaration or positive statement of truth, usually starting with the words "I am". So if you write "I love how smart I am", the affirmation would be "I am smart". Stating it in this language gives it more power and reinforces its positive intent.
  • Turn the list into affirmation art---use the list to create lyrics to a song, cut up magazines and newspapers and make collages (this is especially fun for kids who aren't writing yet), draw pictures to go with each affirmation and create a book.  Adults are not off the hook here: get in there with your kids and celebrate yourself.  It may inspire you and it will inspire your kids.

If you would like to expand this lesson on affirmations, I recommend the following books:


We will be back in about a week to report on our first activity. I would love to hear how it goes for you. Feel free to share your experience and even post your artwork. We will also have another activity waiting! Shine on!

Purpose Statement

We have 3 little ones. Right now we are up to our ears in learning with our brains---we play math games, read books, learn how to print and the ABC's gets more airplay than Justin Bieber at a junior high slumber party.  Of course I am glad my kids are learning, but I know as they continue towards school-age, their intellectual learning will be a growing priority. And their desire to watch tv, play video games, use the computer and text their friends 874 times a day will too. So I am starting early. 

Each week I will post an activity here in hopes that it will nurture compassion, optimism, kindness, self-love, reflection---the universal qualities I want to cultivate in myself and my family. I figure if we spend some time unplugged each week, focused on Creativity, Humanity, our Environment or our Spirit, we will end up more plugged-in and present with each other. I hope your are inspired to try the lessons along with us (they aren't just for kids), check back and see how we did and post your insights too.

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